Amber Alert: Hakken family search ends in Cuba

4:36 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- The good news is the Hakken kids appear to be okay. The bad news is they're in Cuba.

Pictures Tuesday confirmed the Tampa couple that kidnapped their kids and got on a boat, did indeed, head south to Havana.

Last week, reporters half jokingly asked whether the Hakkens might be heading for Cuba. But it seemed so unlikely that Hakken, so against government interference, would choose to flee to an oppressive communist nation.

And yet, that appears to be exactly what they did.

The Cuban government is said to be exceptionally cooperative, but they say that the Hakkens are not in custody and so they're trying to be very careful in what they say as to not derail negotiations.

Pictures from Cuba showed Sharyn Hakken and one of the couples' two young sons playing at the rear of a blue sailboat -- the same boat the couple left Tampa Bay aboard last Wednesday.

Hakken told a news crew Tuesday the children are fine after a treacherous voyage aboard the 24-foot boat from Tampa Bay to Havana, but offered no other comments.

A man, not seen in the video, also identified himself as Joshua Hakken, but declined to answer questions before armed Cuban officials told a CNN news crew to move along.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R) Florida, said it's unfortunate.

"Those parents, and those poor children -- those innocent ones -- will now be in a country where there are no laws, there is no redress, and has been a refuge for fugitives, and for wanted criminals for many years," she said.

Officials say they're still in the middle of sensitive diplomatic negotiations, but that the Cuban government appears to be cooperating.

The Hakkens lost custody of their kids one week ago.

Hours later, they kidnapped 4-year-old Chase and 2-year-old Cole from their grandparents house in Tampa.

The couple fled the country, apparently hoping to keep the boys, but may have sparked an international legal mess in the process.

Patrick Ventrell with the U.S. State Department told reporters: 

"We are aware of this case. The U.S. interests section is in contact with local authorities. U.S. officials are providing all appropriate assistance to the family. Because of privacy reasons we are unable to provide additional information about this specific family."

It appears locally, the local FBI and Hillsborough County Sheriff's office have been told to lay low on this while the State Department tries to figure out where this goes next.

On Adam vs. The Man, a right-wing website Josh Hakken had posted on in the past, there were messages of support for the couple.

Kokesh himself spoke with 10 News saying: 

"It's absolutely clear that he is right and just in what he has done. There are some people who may take issue with the methods, but if you were in a position where your kids had basically been kidnapped from you as a parent by the state and you wanted to have a life with your children, then, he's made it to Cuba."

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